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Stage 1 : Pico Island
The trail starts at the Madalena village harbor in the direction to “Lajido” of Criação Velha, the heart of the Pico´s Vineyard Protected Landscape, classified in 2004 by UNESCO as World Heritage. The basalt stone walls made to protect the vines from the wind and the salty water makes this a unique place on the world and creates a scenario of rare beauty, where man and nature coexist in perfect harmony. As we pass through the vineyards planted in the basalt fields it´s possible to watch micro-reliefs characteristic of a recent effusive volcanism, whose geologic importance classifies it as one of the geosites of Azores Geopark.
As the altitude increases on the way to the mountain, the vineyards give place to the “maroiços”, huge piles of rocks forming magnificent sculptures. These were made with the objective to store the excess of rocks existing on the floor so it was possible to plant several different types of plants and trees.
A little bit above it starts to appear green pastures mixed with volcanic cones and lava tubes, where the cows quietly graze during the entire year and where we can contemplate the mountain getting closer and always different, sometimes with the color changing, cloudy or cloudless or even covered with snow.
By reaching the foothills of the mountain around 1 200mt high, we enter a Nature Reserve of the Nature Park of Pico and also a geosite of the Azores Geopark and a Special Conservation Zone of the 2000 Nature Network. From here the slope inclination quickly starts to increase and starts to appear a lot of typical underbrush species from the Alpine and Sub-Alpine habitats, covered by snow for long periods of time.
Reaching the top of the mountain at 2250mt high and where the first stage ends, we found the crater of Pico, an old lava field with a small peak inside. With good weather conditions it offers us a breathtaking landscape and it´s possible to see all the islands of the Azores Central Group.